which was a serious introspective work about a girl who believes that her soul was stolen by a cat.
“ Lost At Sea was more serious and inward-looking, while Scott Pilgrim is more outward.
“I’ve always wanted to do multiple things creatively, and Scott Pilgrim was a conscious decision to try and do something that is also a different aspect of me,” he said.
Hence all the anime, video game references, the indie music references and all the nerdy, geeky titbits found in the comic; including the videogame-esque fight scenes in the book.
“When you’ve been playing Street Fighter your whole life, you always have this illusion that you’ll be a great fighter when you get into that sort of situation! That’s how it works in the book,” he said, before admitting that some references might alienate certain readers who are not as clued into the geek culture as others.
“I think many people were confused by it, especially in the last book. But hopefully people will still get it on the gut level.”
Bryan’s finest hour
Since the first volume was published back in 2004, it’s been a gradual rise to the top for Scott Pilgrim. “The first book didn’t really sell very well, we only sold about 600 copies in the beginning,” O’Malley recalled.
“Word of mouth through the Internet was a big factor (in its increase in popularity); and I also had some big comic guru – famous writers like Brian Michael Bendis, Warren Ellis – who were big supporters in the early days and told their fans to check out Scott Pilgrim.”
It was only when the second volume was published in 2005 that Scott Pilgrim really began to grow bigger, and it culminated when someone handed Edgar Wright the books, and he snapped up the rights to adapt O’Malley’s book after only two volumes had been published.
While other comic-based movies tend to start shooting after the comic book is done (the recent Kick-Ass is probably the only other exception to the norm), O’Malley was still writing the book as the movie was being made.
“We started talking about the movie very early on and I had to convince them that I knew what I was doing. So I wrote down ideas of what I had for the coming four books and from then on I was already sure of what was going to happen,” he said. “But at the same time, talking to Edgar and Michael (Bacall, screenwriter) about the movie also gave me new ideas for the books. Whenever they had a scene they were not sure of, they’d call or e-mail me. I even ended up writing some dialogue for some of the scenes.”
The series’ final volume, Scott Pilgrim’s Finest Hour, was only released a few weeks before the movie premiered; and O’Malley admitted that he did steal some designs from the movie for the book.
“I was working on this book while I was there on set, so I stole some things back. I thought I was entitled to do so!” he said with a laugh. “I stole some of the designs, like the pyramid in the finale ... it just seemed a lot easier to steal stuff than to design it myself!”
Other than that, having a movie made concurrently with his book didn’t affect his vision for it at all. After all, being the sole writer and artist on the series and with no major management bigwigs breathing down his neck, he had full control over how he wanted it to be like.
“In beginning when not many people were reading it, I just did whatever I wanted with it, and I’ve just continued doing that (throughout the series),” he said. “Edgar also respected my style, and the studio didn’t interfere too much, so in the end, the movie is the same as the comic!”
All that hard work paid off immensely when O’Malley watched the movie for the first time with 1,600 screaming fans at the San Diego Comic Con. “The response at the end of the movie was deafening! Unbelievable. That was definitely the emotional peak of the entire process!”
As Scott Pilgrim himself would say: “SWEET! Let’s go make out! Or something ...” n The entire ScottPilgrim series is available at Kinokuniya, KLCC.
Scott Pilgrim’s first meeting with Ramona Flowers, from volume one of Bryan Lee O’Malley’s ScottPilgrim graphic novel series.
Kim Flowers, screaming the iconic opening line for Scott Pilgrim’s band SexBob-Omb.